Wednesday, May 16, 2007

the pataphysical gag considered as an uphill bicycle race

Gag: "More narrative and often more abstract than a sketch, the gag is short in form and relatively autonomous, and in itself does not necessarily belong to film (there are theatrical, and even musical or pictorial gags). In its most general form, it is characterised by the incongruous and surprising resolution of a situation that may or may not be realistic in its premises ... The gag, in most cases, is less inclined to mobilise cinematic language than body language." [Jacques Aumont and Michel Marie, as cited by Fabien Boully in his essay on Luc Moullet's Parpaillon (1993).]

There is a great example in Parpaillon of a kind of situational gag - one among numerous others in the film - to which the film keeps returning to: that of the girl who cannot unlock her bike from a tree (because she brought the wrong key during this important cycling rally through the Parpaillon mountain pass), tracing her narrative-fragment solely through her expressions and body language (until she eventually, triumphantly brings herself back into the race!).






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